Tangled

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Wednesday, 10:22 PM: Hacking through thatches.

The Bog has been getting the best of me. I’ve been circling above my blog site for weeks, mentally searching the empty, blank space of the Next Post for a glimpse of a fish in the white water: the clear, Inspired Insight that would propel me to plunge in and pour out a compelling paragraph or three.

Waiting for some invisible referee to blow a whistle and announce that I’m actually qualified now to do this.

Hoping that enough prayers and petitions with thanksgiving would move the holy Muse to overcome my sadness about the state of my gnarly hope, my unsteady Walk, such as it is.

Wondering if Needing To Forgive my [important organization in my life] must be the source of the Bog block … Or is it simply my lack of enough sleep in the past week to sustain a guinea pig?

This morning’s Word was compelling though, I have to admit. Romans 10:14, there it was, staring me right in the face even as I had been composing in my mind my daily confession of impotence as a writer (in the face of the Bog). And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?

I can’t even recall how I got there, except that the Book was already open to Romans and I just… started reading.

And that was a whole 18 hours ago, basically a lifetime in my hectic world of work and children and the 57th day of hot, dusty sunny summer burning the edges of my sight and exhausting me from squinting.

I’m glad I sat down and started typing anyway.

Truly knowing him?

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Thursday, 2:49 PM, background musings while I work:

This truth is carrying me through.

A bit cryptic today, I hope not too cryptic.

If a friend who knows my faith walk were to ask me today, “How are you doing,” (as in, “Where are you, spiritually”), I would answer in a way that is new, for me; new after a long, long, stretch of open anxiety and inner grief. I would answer that I’ve grasped a sliver of truth – a certain peaceful truth. And that this truth is carrying me through trouble (like, actual trouble).

This truth is carrying me through.

It’s a confidence that comes from deep in the center, the core, my soul.

It is the Spirit’s confidence pushing through. And it sustains and uplifts me through the turbulence I’m experiencing in my relationship with [important organization in my life] and in my relationship with [important person in my life] right now. There are very real sadnesses in those areas, but having gotten a hold – by just one tiny finger – of the golden ring (a life preserver!) of this sliver of a certain peaceful truth, my soul is lifted up, just above the dark water. My soul stays steadier. Not glassy calm. But markedly, undeniably, steadier.

Though my heart breaks daily over some legitimate troubles in my life, my soul is more at rest than it has been in a long, long time.

This is new. To be aware of the trouble, yet not rocked by the trouble. Amazing.

Seeking and listening for truth – true Truth, if you will –  seems at last to be bearing fruit.

Deeper still

20170712_aWednesday, 6:50 AM

For a year now, I’ve been consistently devoting, as they say, the first five minutes of my day to reading scripture and praying. Spending time with God, as they say. This is likely one hundred percent non-impressive to seminary students or anyone raised in the evangelical church, but for me, it’s an actual achievement.

At this juncture, however, I’m tempted to write off the practice as simplistic. Shallow. Even empty at times. After all, I’m talking to him all day long – consulting, petitioning, thanking. What’s so special to him (or me), about my habit of sitting down, confronting the blank journal page and open Bible, and recording the thoughts and/or inspirations that may come/or not come?

It’s hard to press through discouragement sometimes, to take a deep mental breath and reach through the thick and thorny brush of my pessimism, pull the book within reading range. Slow down the thoughts that, from the moment I rise, are already racing, planning, spinning the day… and listen to the voice behind the verses.

But in my soul I know, as the scholarly saints of old and of today (who are, I want to emphasize, most definitely not me) know, that there’s always more to be heard.

That devoting the first five hours of your day would not get you to the end of the river of Life; would not exhaust the Love that is waiting to pour into your words and actions, should you open to receive it.

What’s amazing is that I still resist.

 

 

 

(Verse note Mark 10: 27)

First and second reading

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Tuesday, 6:14 AM, reading Mark: “His eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.”

This morning, that’s what happened to me, too. (OK, maybe not everything is clear. And maybe it’s been taking place over more than just this morning.)

But those scriptural words hooked my bleary attention, somehow reaching me through my foggy brain. (Oy. It was early.)

The line seems redundant: Yes, he sees now, we get it. But actually, just prior, this man was  in state of seeing people dimly, as “trees walking around.” And just before that he was fully blind.

His sight gets progressively better.

A few verses later Peter tries to intercede in the future suffering Jesus predicts for himself. But Jesus rebukes his disciple, and he isn’t delicate about it. “Get behind me, Satan!” isn’t a correction you’d expect even from a mean teacher. Jesus further chastises him for focusing on mere human issues rather than those of God (v.33).

Good grief. In the past I would have taken this story as a command not to value anything of my own mundane life in comparison to lofty goals for the glory of God. (Exactly what those noble goals would be, I’m not sure. But they would be glorious.)

I would have felt condemned for feeling attached to any of my earthly concerns instead of self-sacrifice in the name of God. (Esh, I hope I didn’t scare anyone there. Just telling it like it was.)

But now I think Jesus was issuing a specific, in-context warning. Peter had just declared Jesus is Christ. The Messiah! Peter’s sure of that much (v. 29), yet he’s still blind to the ultimate mission that Jesus is on.

“Can’t you see?”  Jesus is asking. “I have to do this, go through this coming ordeal — and you have to let me, if you know who I am. What else am I here for? Don’t even think to hinder me in this!”

And with that ultimate mission now complete, our earthly life’s concerns are mercifully (fused and) infused with the Spirit.

The blind man sees progressively more clearly. I see progressively more clearly.

(Verse note: Mark 8:22-33)

Confidence in what we hope for

Monday, 10:22 PM, indulgently stroking the dog’s velvet ears. The benched dog, whose time on the DL is approaching the third week, with at least another to go. Who sports the “cone” with resignation and whose pitiful malaise reaches my heart. I stoop to pet him and, giving in to sympathy, hunker down further for ear-scratching and head rubbing (still in the cone), putting off the dozen chores left to do before bed. For the next minute, at least, he’s happy again, smiling through his “jowly folds,” as we call them, eyes closed in bliss. I wistfully wish I could instantly cure his situation – a cocktail of minor yet majorly inconvenient ills and injuries (hence the cone).

It occurs to me, in the quiet moment, that when you comfort an unhappy animal, or a child at bedtime, it’s not as much the hand-holding or the petting itself, that they long for you to stay and keep giving. The physical contact, however pleasant or familiar it is, only lasts for exactly as long as it’s delivered. They (we all) long for true comfort, lasting comfort. The kind that leaves your spirit relieved that all really isn’t as scary or sad as it seemed a few minutes ago, and in fact there is behind the curtain of fear or frustration, a glorious confident assurance that not only will it be Okay, it already is Okay. (And yes, will be Okay, too.) And the confidence is what stays after the petting and hand-holding stops. And the confidence is your faith, grown when it’s given – and when it’s received.

(Verse note Heb 11:1)